Chapter 100 : Written in the Stars
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WHY DIDN'T ANYBODY TELL ME SIX YEARS AGO THAT THE USERNAME "FASHIONIST" SOUNDS AN AWFUL LOT LIKE "FASCIST?"
Oy vey. Well, enjoy. Enjoy enjoy enjoy. Stay strong, live strong.
A pair of lives exchanged for each other; wisdom lights the fire that scorches the brother.
December 31, 1979
What was he doing here?
It had all been on a whim, a stupid and reckless whim that he shouldn't have let get out of hand. All that he knew was that he had snuck away and he was breathing heavy and he didn't know why he had decided to come here, what in the world could have compelled him to this place when he would have undoubtedly been more secure anywhere else.
He was scared, scared enough for his hands to erratically shake; for a moment he feared that the jewelry resting in his right hand would slip out and fall. Then he wondered why it mattered. Did he really think that he was going to go through with this, now? Tonight?
His eyes turned for a brief moment at the house elf next to him. It had all begun—
Well, it hadn't all begun with Kreacher. The wheels had been turning for years now. Kreacher had just been the last straw, the last injustice that Regulus could tolerate before snapping.
And he had snapped. Regulus knew as much.
The cave was majestic and frightening. Kreacher knew how to infiltrate the defenses, but Regulus was smart enough to know that it wouldn't be painless. Of course it wouldn't be; Voldemort was a remarkable, terrible wizard.
Regulus shuddered as he remembered that night in the forest, his body's tremors harmonizing with his hands'. How terrible he had been. It had been enough to make Regulus live the rest of his life in fear.
And here he was—facing those fears. It stung at his eyes to look at the cave, to see the ultimate destination of all his curiosities over the years. Every fine thread of fate had converged and snowballed and led him here on an unusually warm December night.
"Master?" the house elf next to him said, and Regulus broke out of his reverie. "Master, are you ready?"
Of course he wasn't. He would never be ready and that response choked in his throat as he looked at Kreacher. They had discussed this scenario before—Kreacher knew by heart what he had to do just as Regulus knew where the pathway of resistance ended—
His throat constricted as he looked at the water. There was a taste of death, of dying, on his lips. Regulus knew where this night could go.
"Master?" the house elf said again, confused. They had been looking at the cave for a while.
Regulus hated the idea that this could be the last sight he'd ever see. He looked down at the necklace, the center resting comfortably in his palm. It was a decoy but it was still rather beautiful—and there was a note inside—
He swallowed and looked away. It all hurt; death might have been painless but this, this horrific lead-up, hurt more than any Cruciatus curse could. It felt like dying a million times to know the inevitability, the closeness, of his last breath.
All of a sudden he became irrationally angry and he contemplated throwing the decoy into the water. He turned his eyes up to the stars as he thought of the girl who had unraveled him so irrevocably.
Once upon a time, Regulus had been content. He had never known love but had filled that void with mystery and intrigue. It had worked to incredible success for many years.
And then he had met Scarlett Devous and all of a sudden, those mysteries felt shallow. He grew to understand that there was no satisfaction in solving a mystery that wasn't helpful. There was nothing interesting in dissecting a relationship, the string that had initially brought him to her; mysteries shouldn't have been about interest anyway. It should have been about the pull of the heart.
That thought contradicted the person he'd been before. He wished at times he could have returned that piece of truth like a bad gift and lived the rest of his life in ignorance, still in belief that Voldemort was right, Voldemort was not to be resisted—
But after that night in the forest...and after talking to Sirius and then Scarlett, a girl he loved and missed...his doubts had begun a fire inside of him. Small at first—small enough that it was really only smoke—but then, as he became closer to the Death Eaters, licks of flame emerged and divided him from the future he was supposed to have.
His anger doubled and, disregarding the house elf next to him, he yelled up to the stars. "Damn you!" Regulus said aloud, and his hands shook now with ferocity. "I could have been safe—I could have lived a good life, a happy life—damn you!" he said again, at a loss for words. "I didn't want this!"
He looked down at his hands and willed them to stop shaking. Like everything else, however, it was out of his control. "And you said—" his throat choked up again and he felt the sting of tears that threatened to come— "you said that you would stay with me and you're dead now—and you didn't stay with me, you broke your promise—I don't owe you anything!"
Regulus turned his eyes back up towards the stars. Under his glassy and out-of-focus sight he could have sworn he saw the stars twinkle.
And when he saw them sparkle... calmness came over him. Suddenly he realized that she hadn't broken that promise she had made to him that night in the Astronomy Tower; though not present in body, it was obvious that she was there in the stars.
I have infinite faith in you, she'd said. When he had been doubting his strength and when Sirius had doubted his strength, she had remained confident that he would end up here. Even being here was an act of strength Regulus could have never before fathomed that he would have.
Then he remembered all of the good Scarlett had done for him. This life was unfortunately short, dangerously impulsive—Scarlett had walked the same path. But she had found that the toll on that road was worth the price.
Regulus could see it now too. Love adorned that road. It had led her to an eternal resting place among the stars and for him—maybe it might lead him to some form of honor, some sign that Regulus had not been what he'd seemed ever since he approached a quiet, intriguing girl one night in 1977. Maybe he would be remembered as brave.
His hands hadn't stopped shaking but his mind felt at ease.
Maybe he would be remembered as being strong, the type of strong he had never before thought he could be without her help.
He was still fearful of death, still wary of the circumstances surrounding him. But he glanced at Kreacher and nodded—now it was his time, his moment to walk into the fire. The time for the boy of mystery to piece together the clues... and reach the end that the stars had written for him.
It was the end; he could feel it in his bones and for the slightest of seconds his resolve shuddered again as the finality of the statement hit him—
We've all got light and dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on.
Those words flushed back to him with warmth like fire. Regulus's hands stopped shaking and he took steps with Kreacher towards his future. "I'm ready," he said.
He looked at the stars one last time, saw the star that reminded him so of that look in her eyes, so reminded him of her. The sparkle in his eye mirrored the sparkle that had once been in hers, and with a sense of readiness he turned to fight for everything that made that sparkle shine, as intoxicating as a warm fire in the freezing night—as bright as those watching, knowing stars that illuminated the dark night sky.
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